Is the death in telework a work accident?

Social right. A teleworker, living alone, with little social contact, did not participate in the online service meeting to which he was usually diligent. He also did not answer phone calls from his colleagues or from the HR department. Two days later, he was finally discovered dead at his home.

How to know if this tragedy is also an accident at work? The qualification chosen will have an impact both on the payment of funeral costs and on pensions paid to possible beneficiaries, both by the general social security system and by complementary company or branch plans, and on employer contribution rates when the company employs 150 or more people.

Article L. 411-1 of the Social Security Code teaches us that any injury occurring during the time and at the place of work must be considered as having its cause in work, unless proof is provided that this injury has an origin totally foreign to work. Article L.1222-9 of the Labor Code completes this text by assimilating the accident at the teleworking place to that occurring on the premises of the company.

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Also, assuming that the place where the employee died is indeed the place of telework designated by the agreement between the employer and the employee or by the collective telework agreement or by the ad hoc charter, it is necessary to determine if the death occurred at the time of work and if there is not a cause totally unrelated to the work which would invalidate the qualification of work accident. The proof is difficult to constitute.

Autopsy

Often all that remains is the autopsy to try to determine the time of death and reveal the cause of death, or specify the causes that may have contributed to the genesis of the accident. This step can also highlight a previous condition and potentially link the death to working conditions.

Two kinds of autopsies coexist.

The first is triggered by the doctor who establishes the death certificate by refusing, in the event of a suspicious or violent death, to grant the burial permit. A judicial police officer is then informed of the situation and draws up a report on the circumstances of the death. The judicial investigation is open and the public prosecutor can order an autopsy. This type of autopsy is rare in France.

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Under the terms of Article L. 442-4 of the Social Security Code, “The fund must, if the beneficiaries of the victim so request or with their agreement, if it considers it useful for the manifestation of the truth, ask the court (…) to have the autopsy carried out ”. The case will then be brought before the judicial judge, whom they will have to convince of the need for the implementation of a forensic medical expertise.

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